Take down enemies with high-flying action movie stunts.
PC Release: October 23, 2014
By Ian Coppock
Even though the 80’s happened nearly a third of a century ago, nostalgia for them is still alive and well. Sometimes that fondness takes the form of listening to Rick Astley… other times it’s a hetero man-crush on Kurt Russell. Arguably the most common kind of 80’s nostalgia, though, is avid appreciation for that era’s action movies. Double Action: Boogaloo shares its enthusiasm for such films to the point where the game’s DNA seems to scream Lethal Weapon and Die Hard when examined under a microscope.
Double Action: Boogaloo is a Source multiplayer mod that lives and breathes 80’s action tropes. The title was released for free onto Steam a few years ago and, in the words of developer Double Action Factory, seeks to recreate the high-flying, slow-motion thrills endemic to the 1980’s movie scene. Double Action: Boogaloo benefits from the Source multiplayer options menu that puts virtually every other options menu out there to shame, and it also starts players out with the fast-paced, horns-filled music that anyone who’s seen a buddy cop film will instantly recognize.
The objective in Double Action: Boogaloo is simple: engage other players in a prolonged battle while completing small objectives that randomly pop up during the match. These usually consist of killing a wanted man or taking a briefcase full of loot. Each match is a free-for-all; don’t expect any teams or backup from friends in Double Action: Boogaloo. This setup comprises Double Action‘s sole gameplay mode, and even though the game is free to play, that’s a pretty paltry selection for a multiplayer title.
Players start out each match by picking from one three tough-looking 80’s action heroes (one of whom looks like Nick from Left 4 Dead 2). Players then pick from a roster of pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, and other weapons, none of which will be new to shooter fans. Finally, players have to pick a combat specialty. Athletes are great at running and sliding long distances, while the Marksman class is for players who enjoy being able to aim. From there, it’s straight into the, well, action. Third-person action, to be precise.
Right off the bat, it’s a bit weird that there are only three player characters. Matches in Double Action: Boogaloo can support far more people, meaning that a full server will have lots of clone motorcycle greasers and well-dressed hitmen running around. Usernames ameliorate this problem somewhat, but the limited selection of characters remains conspicuous. Were doppelgangers a common trope in 80’s action films? Not to feed Double Action Factory excuses for their design choices, but that plot twist wouldn’t look out of place in the 80’s.
Double Action: Boogaloo‘s main novelty is the ability to jump and slide around while shooting. Know those scenes in action movies when Bruce Willis or Simon Pegg or whomever is jumping through the air while firing two handguns at once? Double Action lets players recreate that stunt, jumping forward, backward, or to the side. Players can also perform this ability while sliding along the ground, whether the surface is linoleum or a big ol’ pile of rubble. Friction didn’t exist in 80’s action movies and it certainly doesn’t exist in Double Action: Boogaloo.
This jumping and sliding ability is funny for the first hour, but it doesn’t take long for Double Action‘s central novelty to wear off. Part of the problem is that apart from this one mechanic, Double Action‘s third-person shooting gameplay feels generic. When players aren’t shooting while jumping, they’re shooting while running around… much like in any other TPS title. Double Action‘s single gameplay mode limits the fun further; the game would’ve benefited from fleshing out its briefcase retrieval and hitman objectives into full-fledged modes.
The other element that makes Double Action‘s third-person shooting feel cheap is the character animations, which are among the worst such animations of any game reviewed on this page. None of the characters’ movements, from the bow-legged running to pistols being held high in the air, look natural. It’s funny in all the wrong ways, especially when characters abruptly snap into a sliding position while jumping through the air. The character animations in Double Action smack of many things, but not of being a professionally made Source mod.
Come to think of it, the other visual elements in Double Action don’t look all that great either. The Source engine ages less conspicuously than most other engines out there, but that sure doesn’t stop Double Action from having frayed character models and smudgy textures. The lighting’s alright and the level design looks believable, but the actual elements used to build up the game world look subpar. Don’t go into this game expecting a gorgeous action world.
For all the halted effort that went into Double Action‘s visual design, its sound design is much more enjoyable. Guns and grenades go off with startling force and most other sounds come through in crisp enough quality. The aforementioned music isn’t all that memorable and plays only on the menu screen, but it does a good job of capturing the fast-paced, campy spirit of the best worst 80’s action movies.
It would’ve been funny if Double Action had featured corny one-liners akin to Die Hard or Lethal Weapon. Maybe the game could’ve had a few lines inspired by Escape from New York or Big Trouble in Little China. Alas, the characters in Double Action are mutes. Sure, their visual design captures the feel of an 80’s movie quite well, but running around yelling cringey quotes about guns and hardships are just as pivotal to action films as the action itself. With the exception of the menu music and character design, though, Double Action‘s sole claim to being an 80’s homage is the aforementioned jumping mechanic.
The final nail in Double Action‘s coffin is that its multiplayer community is dead. Despite the fact that Double Action Factory has a dedicated server for its game, players will be lucky to find even a single match going on at any given time. Additionally, those matches typically have only 2-3 players in them; very rarely will players find a match with upwards of 8 people in it. It’s hard to know if Double Action ever had a thriving online community, but if it did, those glory days are long gone.
That’s really about it. Double Action is multiplayer game about sliding around and shooting people. That the game is free only does so much when there are only three characters, eight maps, and one gameplay mode to choose from. The third-person shooting is as generic and basic as third-person shooting gets, and though the sound design is pretty good, it’s not any better than Source games with better gameplay and more active communities.
That Double Action: Boogaloo is free only does so much to doll up its skeletal offering as a game. The title seems less focused on capturing the tropes of 80’s action movies as a whole in favor of a singular fixation on being able to jump sideways while shooting a gun. It’s a funny little gimmick, but one funny little gimmick isn’t enough to save an otherwise underwhelming third-person shooter from feeling as basic as Double Action: Boogaloo. Even though the game is free, players aren’t missing much by avoiding it. That hour or so spent being entertained by side-jumping is better enjoyed watching the 80’s films that inspired it.
You can buy Double Action: Boogaloo here.
Thank you for reading! My next review will be posted in a few days. You can follow Art as Games on Twitter @IanLayneCoppock, or friend me at username Art as Games on Steam. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a game that you’d like to see reviewed, though bear in mind that I only review PC games.